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THE CYCLE OF LIFE

The soft spring breeze blows over the cold damp ground of the LaPlace swamp. The shy flowers are beginning to show their tiny little heads through the damp ground. All around the swamp life is beginning to bloom a sure sign that spring is in the air.

A chirping sound from high in the Magnolia tree sounds the arrival of a new life. A tiny bird slowly pecks his way from his shell and awakens to a new and beautiful world. Spring has come in all her glory. The mother bird looks down at the tiny little bird. "My son, so many wonderful adventures await you. I hope that I am able to help you be all that you can be. I shall name you Ernest. That is a strong name for a strong bird."

Mother bird watched over Ernest very carefully. Each morning she brought him food and protected him from the people that would harm him. Mother bird took her job very seriously and did everything to protect Ernest for she knew that one day he would leave her side and be on his own.

One day as mother bird was out looking for dinner. Ernest spotted a small caterpillar crawling on a leaf near their nest. At first Ernest was amazed by the antics of the small insect as he crawled from leaf to leaf.

"Who are you and what are you doing in my tree?" Ernest asked.

"Hi, sorry I did not see you there. My name is Cal and I am a caterpillar. I am just out for an evening stroll and dinner and who might you be?" asked Cal.

"My name is Ernest and I am a Robin. I live here in this tree with my mother. She is not home now as she has gone out to get our dinner. She should be home soon. Perhaps you should wait to meet her. She is very nice."

"Ernest, don't you know anything? I told you I am a caterpillar. Birds eat caterpillars. You mom would probably like nothing better then to have me for her dinner. I better go before she comes back."

"Cal, please don't go. I do not know anyone here in the swamps and I am so lonely. Can't we be friends. I am sure you are wrong about my mother, please stay."

"Ernest, you will soon enough learn the ways of the world. I would love to be your friend. I will come back tomorrow and we will talk again."

The next morning, as soon as Ernest's mother left, Cal appeared.

"Ernest, I thought your mom would never leave. I have been hiding behind that leaf forever."

"I am sorry Cal but mom was very tired and did not want to go out this morning. I am so sorry."

"Ernest can you fly yet?"

"Of course I can fly, why do you ask?"

"I always wanted to know what it would be like to fly high above the trees and look down upon the earth. My mom tells me that one day I too will be able to fly."

"Cal, you are so silly, you can not fly you are a caterpillar. Caterpillars can not fly. They do not have wings but I know how you can fly." With those words, Ernest gently grabbed and placed Cal in his beak and flew off into the sky.

"Oh! Ernest it is so beautiful up here. I can see the whole world. You are so lucky to be able to fly. One day I will be flying too. You will see Ernest. My mother is so wise and she is so beautiful. One day we will soar over the earth together. I hope it is soon Ernest. Then we can fly together forever. We can be friends until the end of time. It will be so much fun . Can't you see us flying together all over the world."

Ernest looked at his friend's happy face. "Friends forever and ever Cal. Fate meant for us to be together."

Weeks passed and Ernest and Cal spent all of their time together. They roamed the swamps sharing in many great adventures.

One day Cal told Ernest that he would not be coming back for awhile that he was going on a journey and when he returned he would have a special surprise for him.

"Cal, please don't go. I want you to stay. I don't want you to go."

"I do not want to go either. My mom said that I must leave for awhile but I will return. Promise that you will wait for me. You are my very best friend, forever."

"Wait, wait Cal, please don't leave me."

Weeks passed and Ernest was very lonely. He spent most of his days visiting the places that he and Cal had gone to. He missed his friend so much. One day while Ernest was flying over the swamp, he heard his friends voice calling out to him.

"Ernest, it is so great to see you again."

Ernest quickly looked around. It sounds like Cal's voice, but where is he? he though.

"Ernest, here I am. Look am I not handsome."

Ernest turned to the voice and there he saw a large butterfly.

"Cal, is that you?"

"Yes, Ernest it is I. I told you that I had a surprise for you and that one day I would be able to fly. My mother was right. Isn't it wonderful? I am so happy. Now we can do everything together. We can fly everywhere."

"Cal, it is wonderful and you are so handsome, why didn't you tell me that you were a butterfly."

"Ernest, I was a caterpillar and now I am a butterfly what difference does it make. We can still be friends can't we? It really should not matter what I look like. I am the same person as I was before, I only look different."

"Cal, I do not care what you look like. We shall be friends forever and ever."

Spring turned into summer and our little friends spend all their time together. They explored the swamps and meadow. They flew over the roof tops and cities. They took showers in the raindrops that fell from the leaves. Life was good.

One day Cal do not come to the meadow. Ernest was very worried about him and went to see what had happened. He found Cal sitting on a tree. He looked so sad.

"Cal, why are you sitting there all alone. I have been waiting for you. Come on now it is getting late."

"Ernest, something terrible has happened. My mother has begun her journey home and I am all alone. She told me that one day soon, I too will take that same journey and that she will return for me, when the time is right. I told her I did not want her to go but she said it was her time. Why did she leave me?"

"Cal, I am sure she will be back soon. She said she would return for you, didn't she? Why do you look so sad. Come on now. You have me. We will be together forever. Come on Cal, while there is still light."

"Ernest, you are so young. One day I will have to explain it all to you but not now, your right, we have so little time. Let's go and find an adventure."

"Cal, we are the same age. Why do you think I am young?"

Cal said nothing but flew quickly away with his friend Ernest by his side.

Ernest whispered, "Cal, I do not want this to ever end. Let's fly far away, where it is summer always and we can be happy all the time."

"Ernest, I wish it was that easy but soon I too will be going away."

Summer passed and the misty September rain began to fall on the swamps and Cal came to Ernest.

"I think it is time for us to talk. Ernest, the time has come for me to leave. My mother came to me in a dream last night and told me that my journey here was now over and that I must join her. My friend, I am afraid that I must say goodbye, for now."

"Cal, take me with you. I promise I will not get in your way. I thought we were friends. I want to be with you."

"Ernest, the place I am going to, I must go alone. My journey on this earth is almost over. It is time for me to move on so that another can take my place. It is the cycle of life."

"Cal, don't say that. I will not let you go. Stay here with me. You said we will always be friends and now you say you are leaving me. Why Cal?"

"Ernest, I do not want to go but I must. In time you too will face this journey. Do not be afraid for I shall return to take you home and we can be together forever but until that time I must say goodbye. Always remember that I love you and as long as you keep me in your heart I shall live forever. Goodbye, Ernest. Remember I will be waiting for you."

"Cal, wait. Wait for me Cal, I want to go too."

Cal tipped his wing in a final goodbye and flew away.

He will be back, I know he will, thought Ernest. We are friends he would not just leave me here.

Days passed and each day Ernest watched for his little friend but Cal never came back to that meadow.

Ernest was very confused. At first he was angry with Cal but his mother explained that Cal had no choice and had to follow his destiny. Days became weeks and weeks turned into months. Every day Ernest returned to the meadow and looked for his friend.

When Spring arrived, Ernest began to notice new caterpillars. He carefully watched them as they made their way across the ground. He watched them as they changed into butterflies and he watched as they made their final flights. Ernest was amazed by all the changes that they went through and it was then that he realized what Cal had been trying to say. To every living thing there is a time. A time to be born. A time to grow and change and a time to let go.

Ernest whispered a thank you to his wonderful friend for helping him to understand the mystery of the cycle of life.

Finally Ernest meet a pretty little bird named Betty and they were married. Years passed and Ernest got on with his life. He made many new friends but no one as special as Cal. As the years passed Ernest often took his children to the meadow, where he and Cal shared their many adventures. There in the meadow he taught them about the cycle of life and he shared his stories about that wonderful summer and his best friend Cal. The children loved to hear the tales of Cal the caterpillar and ask to hear them over and over again.

In time Cal became just a happy memory but each spring Ernest returned to the meadow just to sit and watch the butterflies. Always hoping that one day Cal would return.

One day as Ernest sat in the meadow. He heard a familiar voice call out to him.

"Ernest, it is time for us to be together again. Come my friend."

"Cal, is it really you? I have waited so long."

"Yes, Ernest it is I. Do not be afraid. I am here to help you. Come with me."

Ernest sighed and followed his friend. They quickly flew higher and higher into the sky until they could no longer be seen.

"Cal, why did you wait so long? I have waited and waited for you but I have never forgotten you. You have always been by my side even after you were gone."

"Ernest, I have never forgotten you either. I watched over you as you grew up and got married. I am so proud of you, you had such a good life. I wanted to come for you, I wanted us to be together but your journey was not complete. I waited and waited Ernest. Now we will be together, friends forever and ever."

"Yes Cal, we are friends forever."

As evening fell, Ernest's wife Betty became concerned when he did not return home and the next day she went to the meadow. There she found Ernest laying in the meadow, where he spent his days waiting for his friend. Betty was not sad, for she knew that Ernest had gone home and that he was now with his best friend. She also knew that when her time on earth was finished, Ernest and Cal would come for her and that they would spend eternity together.



Devin The Frog

One day Taylor was left to watch over her brother, Devin, while her parents were out shopping. Taylor soon grew bored with Devin and his boyish ways. Devin had been jumping up and down on Taylor's bed. No matter how many times she had asked him to stop he wouldn't. He just continued to jump.
Taylor had mastered a few spells by this time. She decided that she would teach Devin a lesson. As Devin continued jumping up and down, Taylor decided that he looked much like a frog jumping. An idea formed in her mind. Yes, she would turn him into a frog and he could jump all he wanted.
With that thought, she cast the following spell: "still jumping up and down like a frog I see. Than a real frog you shall be."
Poof! right before her very eyes Devin was turned into a green frog. Devin was so surprised, that for a few moments he just sat on the bed. But as frogs need water, he soon decided that he had better head for the swimming pool. He jumped off the bed, hopped down the steps. Leaped past Toby, the dog, who tried to bite him. He hopped right out the open window into the waiting pool. Once in the cool water, he began to swim around and around in the pool. At first it was fun having the pool all to himself. But then he began to feel lonely and wanted someone to play with.
As he was swimming he began to hear the sounds of other frogs croaking in the woods behind his house. What fun it would be to run with the other frogs. He decided that he would search for the other frogs. Finally, he would have a friend to play with.
About a half hour later, Taylor decided that Devin had been punished enough. She set out to find him and return him back to his original form. She knew that Devin would have gone straight to the pool, she wasn't worried that she could find him. But to her amazement he was not in the pool. Now, she did begin to worry. Her parents would be back soon and what would they think if Devin was missing? She knew that frogs would have to be around water. She started looking everywhere, where there was water. She looked in the sink, in the bathtub and even in the toilet. She looked over the house in the rain gutters, under the house in the puddles. But still she found no sign of Devin. Now it was the time to really start worrying, for soon it would be dark. Night time brought out the frog hunters. A famous dish of Louisiana is frog legs, and with the big legs that Devin had he surely would become someone's dinner before the night was over.
This called for special help. Taylor knew that she had to ask for Theodore's help in finding Devin. She returned to her room and asked Theodore for help in finding Devin. Theodore agreed to help her, because in his mind Taylor was perfect and could do no wrong.
Theodore pulled out the crystal ball and cast this spell: "reveal, reveal to me, where little Devin just might be."
As the fog began to clear in the crystal ball, a pond appeared in a tree-lined forest. Taylor recognized this area as the trees behind her house. She ran down the stairs as fast as her legs could carry her. She ran straight to the wooded area behind her house.
To her amazement she found not just one frog, as she had expected. But hundreds of frogs and she could not tell which one was Devin. Devin, wanting to get Taylor in trouble, would not reveal himself. So, Taylor began picking up each frog and looking at it. She tried to turn them back to Devin, but she failed. With each failure, she became more and more angry.
Meanwhile, Devin was sitting on a lily pad in the middle of the pond and enjoying the scene before him. When suddenly he decided that he was hungry. This would not have been a problem normally, but since now he was a frog his tastes were different. When a fly buzzed by his head, his tongue automatically flicked out and grabbed the fly and he quickly swallowed it. When the fly entered his stomach and began buzzing about, Devin became scared. What had he done? He was so scared that he jumped out of the pond and straight into Taylor's arms. Taylor was shocked that a frog had attacked her. She threw him to the ground. Just then she looked at the frog and saw tears filling his eyes. She knew that she had found her lost brother. She gently lifted him and carried him back to her room.
She quickly changed him back to his original form. Devin was happy to be back to his old self. But, he threatened to tell their parents what she had done. Since no one was to know that she was a wizard, Theodore decided that he had to step in. With that thought in mind, he cast this spell: "Devin, whatever you do, you can not reveal what happened to you."
Soon Devin found himself sitting on Taylor's bed, his time as a frog erased forever from his mind. But, sometimes when a fly buzzes by, a wicked gleam comes into his eye and his tongue flicks out, just a little bit. A little reminder of his adventure as a frog.
Theodore made Taylor promise not to play any more tricks on her little brother. But you and I know that is an impossible promise to keep. As brothers are always fun to play tricks on whether you're a wizard or not, they are just easy prey.

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